Blogs

We Can Pickle That: Cucumbers!

Summer is on -- time to cue the cukes! Pickling is the way to go for most of us, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves for cucumbers.

Sour Pickles
Sour Pickles
Our friend lactofermentation gives cucumbers their characteristic tang. This is the deli pickle of your dreams -- but there are a few tricks to perfecting crispy spears. (Image via Tim Vidra)
Half Sours
Half Sours
A slightly less salty brine produces a pickle with a slightly less sour tang. (Image via From Scratch Club)
East Coast New Pickles
East Coast New Pickles
A tradition in the Northeast, these pickles are brined but unfermented, making for a crisp, salty cuke. (Image via Linda Ziedrich)
Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
Whether fermented or vinegar-brined, dill pickles are dill-icious, and endlessly variable. (Image via Talk of Tomatoes)

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Stuff It! DIY Sausage

Summertime is upon us, and it's time to bust out the grill and sear up some sausage. Making your own is easier than you think, and the rewards are worth the effort.

Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs
Store-bought franks are snouts and ... other parts. Make your own with top-quality meat for the best flavor. (Image via Eat Live Travel Write)
Italian Sausages
Italian Sausages
Hot or sweet, Italian sausages bring big flavor to the party. (Image via NPR)
Chorizo
Chorizo
A pinch of pimientón makes these Mexican and Spanish sausages muy caliente(Image via The Cultivated Life)

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Peachy Keen

It's no coincidence that the word "peach" is connoted with so many positive things in our language. These fuzzy fruit are the ultimate taste of summer. And when they're in, they're in but good, so you better get on them. Here's a few thoughts on handling the bounty.
 
jam, jam and more jam
Jam, Jam and More Jam
Got a bushel of peaches? Jam those mamma jammas. And get inspired: Kick it up with Earl Grey tea, or basil and habanero, or pineapple sage. Mix it up with other fruit like plums or raspberries. The choices are endless.
Peach Preserves
Peach Preserves
Keep it chunky to preserve the texture of those juicy drupes!

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Going Ape for Apricots

Like sunshine trapped in a soft, fuzzy fruit, apricots are the ultimate harbinger of summer. Here's a bushelful of ways to make the most of them.

Canned Apricots
Canned Apricots
Can up those fruits in syrup either light or heavy to have on hand for desserts to come. (Image via Wildcraft Vita)
Apricot Jam
Apricot Jam
Apricot is arguably the easiest jam, as the fruit melts down and creates a set without any added pectin. (Image via Food Fanatic)
Apricot Preserves
Apricot Preserves
Stewed down and chunky, apricot preserves are delicious on desserts, or just eaten by the spoonful. (Image via Girl's Guide to Butter and Guns)
Apricot Jelly
Apricot Jelly
Think beyond the peanut butter on this stuff -- apricot jelly makes an amazing glaze on pies and tarts, as well as savory roast meats like pork or turkey.  (Image via Nest)

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Cherries Are the Bomb

Cherries! Early summer's best drupe is finally in season, and there are just oh so many things to do with them. Grab a bushel or 10 while they're abundant, and tuck into these DIY projects, from jam to sauces to drinks and more.

Cherry Pitters: The Right Tool for the Job
Cherry Pitters: The Right Tool for the Job
First things first: There's a wide variety of tools to pit cherries, from the Cadillac model to the humblest DIY tricks. Here's a few options.
Cherry Jam
Cherry Jam
Jam up those cherries for a sweet spread that tastes of summer all year long. (Image via Shockingly Delicious)
Cherry Freezer Jam
Cherry Freezer Jam
Freezer jam requires no cooking, just mashing and then you have jam. Plus it uses a lot less sugar than traditionally canned jam because you don't need the sugar to act as a preservative. (Image via Coconut & Lime)
Cherry Preserves
Cherry Preserves
Preserve whole or chunked fruit for more texture, perfect for desserts. (Image via Kitchen Apparel)
Cherry Pie Filling
Cherry Pie Filling
Can your own sweet cherries for those holiday pies and treats. (Image via Delectable Musings)

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DIY Condiments for Summer Grilling and Entertaining

Summer grilling is great, but burgers and dogs are only as good as the condiments that dress them up. Step away from the packaged varieties and try your hand at DIY condiments to make haute dogs and hamburgers.

Ketchup, found on PunkDomestics.com
Ketchup
Heinz, schmeinz. Homemade ketchup is easy and delicious, and is open to a world of interpretation. Why stop at tomato? We've got recipes for ketchups made from cranberries, rose hips, figs and more.

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May Flowers

Bye bye, April showers. You know what that means. Spring is in full bloom, and edible flowers are bursting out all over. We've got a great big bouquet of blossoms for you to forage and incorporate in DIY projects.

Violets
Violets
Take a stroll through your local field, and capture dainty violets' delicate flavor and lurid color in syrup and jelly. (Image via Use Real butter)
Elderflower
Elderflower
Sweetly aromatic heads of elderflowers are cropping up all over. Capture their springlike essence while you can with these DIY elderflower projects. (Image via Well Hung Food)

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Maker Faire 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out for my demos at Maker Faire 2015! I had a great time, and am happy to answer any questions on the material I covered. And for those who expressed interest in our trips to Italy, check out the overview here, with links to full itineraries in October and January.

Duck Prosciutto
Duck Prosciutto
All it takes is duck breast, salt, and time to make a delicious "prosciutto" in about a week, right in your own home. Here's the piece I wrote for About.com, but there are plenty more posts on the site. For the demo, we used the "salt box" method.
Pancetta
Pancetta
Once you've conquered the duck breast move on to pork belly to make pancetta, a simple Italian bacon. Remember: 3% salt to meat ratio by weight, and cure in the fridge for about a week.
Bacon
Bacon
The holy grail! Basically the same thing as pancetta, but typically with a sweeter cure and smoked. Regular bacon is delicious (duh), but if you really want to blow some minds, step up to Sichuan bacon. BOOM.
Shrubs
These drinking vinegars are easy and surprisingly refreshing. Based on recipes from Michael Dietsch's book Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, we demoed a basic fruit shrub of 1 pound fruit macerated in 3/4 cup sugar, then strained and mixed with 3/4 cup vinegar. But the possibilities are limitless!

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Foraging Resources (and a Giveaway)

Win a copy of Foraging & Feasting by Dina Falconi, illustrated by Wendy Hollender, on PunkDomestics.com

Foraging season is nigh upon us. Ramps are peaking on the East Coast, Japanese knotweed is poking up; dandelions are blooming. Soon wild fruits will burst out all over. 

There's no shortage of resources for the budding forager, or even the more seasoned. A few favorites include: 

(Disclosure: Affiliate links from which I may derive revenue.)

One of the newest additions to the forager's library is also one of the most compelling. Dina Falconi's Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook stands apart from the pack in one key way. The large-format book is stunningly illustrated with botanicals by Wendy Hollender. These figures not only educate but delight the eye. (See the illustration for wild grape, above.) In fact, you'd want to frame them and hang them on the wall, except then they wouldn't help you in the field. 

Falconi follows up the identifying illustrations with a fleet of master recipes, applying your foraged foods to practical use. Take, for example, a barbecue sauce that employs a variety of wild fruit, as well as foraged herbs. 

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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11 Delicious DIY Dips

Friends don't let friends serve store-bought dips. Here's a handful of DIY dips for that will keep the chips and crudite diving in.

Chip Dip
Chip Dip
Fresh, creamy dips are the perfect complement to salty, crunchy chips or crisp crudite. Step away from the store-bought stuff in plastic tubs and make your own. (Image via Eating Rules)
Salsa
Salsa
America's favorite condiment comes in a dizzying array of colors and flavors, as diverse as the country it hails from. Whether you go for straight-up tomato, zesty green salsa verde, or salsas made with corn or fruit, your tortilla chips will thank you (and so will your guests). (Image via Cooking Channel)
Guacamole
Guacamole
Cool, creamy guacamole leverages the avocado's naturally rich texture. Kick it up as spicy as you like, or leave it mild as a delicious dip. (Image via Alyssa and Carla)

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Recipes - Techniques - Tools